Thursday, July 2, 2009

Legislative Session Winners and Losers

A day late and a dollar short, I offer my own take on "winners and losers" from the Indiana General Assembly special session:

Winners
  • Governor Mitch Daniels. For a man who has the 2nd weakest veto power of any governor in the country, Governor Daniels used the bully pulpit masterfully and in the end got the budget he wanted.
  • House Speaker Brian Bosma. While his fervent support of CIB tax increases fortunately fizzled, he held his caucus together beautifully in the House. In the end, although in the minority, the House Republicans were calling the shots.
  • Senate Majority Leader David Long. Of course, it's not hard being a winner when you have a solid majority as the Republicans do in the Senate. One wonders though if he and his fellow Senators may have overplayed his hand with the Sen. Leising leak. Sure they do not like Leising, but that may have been going too far.
  • Education reform proponents. Charter schools were nearly capped in the regular session, but in special session, the proponents of charters ran the table. Education reformers even got a tax credit passed for tuition at private schools. Let's not use the nasty word "vouchers" though.

Losers

  • House Speaker Pat Bauer. Although usually a masterful politician, the South Bend Democrat simply could not hold his caucus together at the end.
  • Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. Ballard's tunnel vision regarding how to deal with the CIB problem in the end did him in. Now the Mayor is being blasted by the popular Governor of his own party. Look for rumors that he won't seek a second term to increase.
  • CIB Bailout supporters. CIB lobbyists were all over the Statehouse for the regular and special session. Wonder how much that cost the CIB. In the end, they only got a loan, the right to raise the hotel tax and right to raise additional taxes in 2013, long after Mayor Ballard's political career will have come to a merciful end. CIB proponents did not have a Plan B if they did not get the tax increases they wanted. Now, Plan B might be construction of a time machine to speed forward to 2013. Given the lack of profit in running the CIB, privatization will be difficult, but if it happens, it will certainly be an entity that is willing to come into the Circle City and engage in the pay to play politics that dominates Indianapolis
  • Dr. Eugene White and IPS. Even though IPS continues to lose students, the district insists that it needs more and more money even though IPS has only a fraction of the students it had 30 years ago and has graduation rates that are near the bottom in the state. The IPS annual begfest has worn out its welcome at the Statehouse. It's sad how IPS supporters think it is okay to use kids directly involved in political activity to try to get more money.
  • ISTA. Not only was the ISTA retirement fund taken over by NEA, ISTA might want to have NEA take over its political activities. ISTA lost nearly across the board in special session.
  • Gambling supporters. (Again, I refuse to call it "gaming" as if dropping the "b" and "l" will somehow trick people into thinking it is something other than gambling.) The CIB bailout was seen as an excuse to expand gambling. That fizzled. So too did the earlier racino bailout bill. No Indianapolis casino either despite the fervent support of Ways and Means Chairman Bill Crawford.
  • Those who decry the need for any special session. The special session allowed time for new budget figures to come in which showed a substantial drop in state tax revenues. Out of the special session, came a much better, taxpayer friendly budget. The state's taxpayers were out thousands of dollars because of the cost of the special session. But that turned out to be a good investment because in the end a much better budget was produced.

4 comments:

Advance Indiana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Advance Indiana said...

Paul, I'm confused by your winners and losers. I don't see how the CIB lobbyists are losers. They won and won big. Despite all the damning evidence to the contrary, they got half of what they were seeking. It was clear from the beginning that they were asking for more than they really needed. The talk by Mayor Ballard about how great the shortfall is even with the extra $25 million a year is all bull. You have reversed the winners and losers between Bosma and Bauer. Bosma strung out Republicans who will be battered over their votes for the CIB bailout. Bauer saved most of his members from that same fate. Bauer didn't care to hold his caucus together at the end. He was more than happy to let the Republicans put up the votes to pass a flawed budget. And don't forget that Bosma was behind the effort to stick the referendum for a new Wishard Hospital on a special election ths fall that will cost taxpayers dearly.

Advance Indiana said...

"While his fervent support of CIB tax increases fortunately fizzled, he held his caucus together beautifully in the House."

To clarify this, Paul, all of the tax increases are in that budget bill. Two are being delayed until 2013 because the CIB is being allowed to borrow $27 million, $9 million in each of the next three years, in addition to the extra $8 million state taxpayers will be kicking in to the CIB. I don't see that as a fizzling of his fervor for tax increases.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Gary, you bring up some good points. I agree the Wishard thing was a real sleeper in the budget. It could come back to haunt taxpayers. It almost makes me wonder if the CIB thing was a diversion so they could slip it in.

I don't think the Indy-area legislators will be hit for their CIB votes because both parties were on board and it got lumped into the budget distorting things. Now the council is a different story entirely. I would not want to be a Republican on the council voting for that hotel tax increase. The Mayor is already tarnished so much by the tax increases that his political career is over.

I see your argument about Bosma, but if you look at the budget itself, I think you would have to call Bosma a winner over Bauer. Your point is that Bauer will be the winner in the long run because his caucus is better positioned politically due to things like the CIB. Possibly. Certainly I wouldn't want to be running around the state bragging how I voted for the CIB bailout paid for with tax increases.

As far as the CIB supporters, I think they were expecting a shot at more revenue, so they could waste even more of our tax dollars. You and I agree that the CIB folks have been lying about the numbers for quite some time. If you look at Mayor Ballard's reaction, he clearly did not get what he wanted. The Mayor made it clear they were coming back to the legislature next session. Governor Daniels, Bauer, and Senate Pro Tem Long slapped him down big time.